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Trump to meet Abbas and Netanyahu at UN General Assembly

The US President is set to meet the Prime Minister of Israel and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, according to Israeli media reports.

This morning Haaretz reported that Donald Trump will renew his efforts to establish peace negotiations by meeting Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly on 19 September, in what would be their first meeting since Trump’s visit to the region in May.

Two weeks ago, senior advisor to the US President Jared Kushner, US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell met Netanyahu and Abbas on a visit to the Middle East. Netanyahu told Kushner that he believes peace with the Palestinians is “within our reach” and thanked him for “the effort you’re leading on behalf of President Trump”.

The US delegation left the meeting with Abbas satisfied they had convinced the Palestinians to trust in Trump’s approach and not attempt to initiate any unilateral initiatives of their own in the immediate future. Kushner and Greenblatt are believed to have persuaded King Abdullah of Jordan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to call Abbas and encourage him to participate in the US initiative.

A senior White House official said that “the Arab leaders are willing to roll up their sleeves and try to help us achieve something historic,” and that they “were all very optimistic about what the President might be able to do on the peace process”.

Netanyahu will likely discuss Iran’s consolidation of forces in Syria and the JCPOA Iranian nuclear agreement with the US President. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has expressed his belief that, despite its flaws, the nuclear agreement represents the best means of preventing Iran developing a nuclear bomb.

However, at a speech to the American Enterprise Institute yesterday, US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley suggested the US could potentially withdraw from the deal, saying: “If the president finds that he cannot in good faith certify Iranian compliance, he would initiate a process whereby we move beyond narrow technicalities and look at the big picture.”

She also said that she “should welcome a debate over whether the JCPOA is in US national security interests” and asked “how can we know if Iran is complying if inspectors cannot look everywhere they should look?”